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Thread: Rakusu, Kesa

  1. #1

    Rakusu, Kesa

    It looks like I accidently deleted an old thread trying to revive it.

    Our new member, Anisa F, asked ...

    At what point should one start to wear a Wagesa or a Rakusu? Is it optional? I have noticed that during the Zazenkais and weekly sittings most sangha members will wear the Rakusu or the Wagesa, but I don't know if I should wear one because I'm new to Soto Zen and this sangha. Are they something all sangha members should wear?
    To which Kokuu responded ...

    Hi Anisa

    Members sew a Rakusu before they take Jukai (receiving the sixteen Zen precepts) and can wear it after that. The next Jukai preparation will begin in September ready for the ceremony in January 2022.

    Kesas are mostly worn by members who have taken full/home-leaving ordination (Shukke Tokudo).

    However, despite this, there is no hierarchy of sangha membership or practice and sitting without a Rakusu or Kesa is just the same as with. They are a reminder to those who have taken vows of the importance of the precepts and path of the bodhisattva. We have some members who have been here for years and chosen not to take Jukai or sew a Rakusu. It is totally optional.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    To which I responded ...

    One small correction to what Kokuu wrote ...

    Kesas are mostly worn by members who have taken full/home-leaving ordination (Shukke Tokudo).
    In the Nyoho-e sewing tradition, to which Nishijima Roshi, Kodo Sawaki Roshi and this Sangha partake, anyone who has undertaken Jukai may sew and wear a full Nyoho-e Kesa during Zazen and practice, not only ordained folks.
    And all is restored.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayKAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-09-2021 at 08:44 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    By the way, what is a "wagesa?" some may wonder. How is it different from a Rakusu?

    "Wagesa" (輪袈裟) means "loop Kesa." Generally, in the west, the Rakusu is much more common to receive at Jukai. In Japan, Wagesa are usually given to active parishioners of a particular Soto temple, not all of whom have received Jukai. I have been handed a couple in Japan without any ceremony attached. It is also given to participants sometimes as part of Jukai in Japan, I believe, but not so common. It is a simpler item (in construction and cost) them the Rakusu. Here is a Soto Wagesa.



    The priests of some other sects of Buddhism, such as Pure Land, wear a larger wagesa in place of a Rakusu.



    The Wagesa, like the Rakusu, developed as an abbreviate Kesa for less formal purposes. Apparently, the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives use this for Jukai for lay folks, thus some Sangha in the west connected to the OBC and Kennett Roshi, like Domyo Burk's group, use them I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-09-2021 at 03:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Hōkan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Crooked House by Wonderland Park in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN, USA
    I'm looking forward to Jukai preparations later. First to re-study the precepts and, second, to try to sew a Kesa. I'm told it takes much more time and much more effort to sew a Kesa and I know that I needed a lot of help with my Rakusu so who knows how it will go... Also, I had Tomoe Katagiri-Sensi (and a bunch of others in my Jukai session) to help me last time but she's retired now. Anyway, I hope I can participate.

    I Sat Today
    --
    Hōkan at the Crooked House by Wonderland Park in Longfellow, Minneapolis, MN, USA

  4. #4
    And there are those of us who can't sew a Rakusu because of mental or emotional difficulties. That doesn't preclude us from taking Jukai, the Rakusus are provided by members of the Sangha who are or believe they are, capable of of sewing and partaking of the meditative practice.
    SAT LAH

    Kyousui - strong waters 強 水

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Hōkan View Post
    I'm looking forward to Jukai preparations later. First to re-study the precepts and, second, to try to sew a Kesa. I'm told it takes much more time and much more effort to sew a Kesa and I know that I needed a lot of help with my Rakusu so who knows how it will go... Also, I had Tomoe Katagiri-Sensi (and a bunch of others in my Jukai session) to help me last time but she's retired now. Anyway, I hope I can participate.

    I Sat Today
    Hi Hokan,

    We follow in the same tradition as Tomoe and are more than happy to help you through the process. Really a Kesa is just a really big Rakusu, with a couple little extras. But big, so more time - not really more effort after the extra time. More more time, not more skills.

    We are here for you when every you want to get started.

    (and just a quick FYI, I started sitting at the Minnesota Zen Center when Dainin Katagiri (and Tomoe) were there. I lived just a few blocks away.)

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    Last edited by Shinshi; 05-09-2021 at 03:31 AM.
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  6. #6
    Thank you Kokuu and Jundo for clarifying that for me! Very interesting and I feel relieved to finally understand Rakusus and Kesas clearly. I will definitely be looking into Jukai as I continue my studies as well. Thank you!

    Anisa
    SatToday

  7. #7
    *waving at Hōkan from Rochester*

    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  8. #8
    Where can we learn to sew a Kesa? There is a series of videos on sewing a Rakusu but i have been unable to find one for a kesa.

    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by serenewolf View Post
    Where can we learn to sew a Kesa? There is a series of videos on sewing a Rakusu but i have been unable to find one for a kesa.

    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah
    Hello David,

    after sewing a Rakusu and studying/taking the Precepts (Jukai), you can ask Jundo for permission to sewing a full Kesa.
    There will be a Howto document and of course plenty of help from those who already undertook the journey.
    You'll find it very similar to sewing a Rakusu, just many more stitches and some minor differences, but the Rakusu sewing knowledge is imho indispensable.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Last edited by Kotei; 05-14-2021 at 05:05 AM.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  10. #10
    I need to step away from the kesa thread - not this year!

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Hello David,

    after sewing a Rakusu and studying/taking the Precepts (Jukai), you can ask Jundo for permission to sewing a full Kesa.
    There will be a Howto document and of course plenty of help from those who already undertook the journey.
    You'll find it very similar to sewing a Rakusu, just many more stitches and some minor differences, but the Rakusu sewing knowledge is imho indispensable.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Thank you, i was unaware of the order of events or where to start. Once i am able to get some sewing equipment and learn how to sew i will be able to start on the Rakusu.
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by serenewolf View Post
    Thank you, i was unaware of the order of events or where to start. Once i am able to get some sewing equipment and learn how to sew i will be able to start on the Rakusu.
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah
    The next round of Rakusu sewing and Precept reflection as part of the preparation for Jukai in January will start in September.
    Starting together in September with buying the right material and practicing the first stitches usually works fine.
    We're doing this as a group, which is a wonderful thing and provides help and encouragement.
    You can have a look at last year's preparation and sewing in this section here: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...Y-SEWING-FORUM

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Last edited by Kotei; 05-14-2021 at 07:32 PM.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  13. #13
    I can say I were my rakusu for every sitting and every formal Zendo practice and On few occasions I have worn it at other than Treeleaf occasions. I feel deep gratitude for my sangha because my rakusu was a gift. When I could not sew because of disabilities my sangha made my rakusu a gift. I will wear it into the next world someday not soon. I am humbly hoping to complete Jukai with adequate care this year and then in January.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

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